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Vincenzo Jumper Pony

Vincenzo the Jumper Pony

I’ve been keeping quiet lately, but Miles has been a little bit footsore ever since last Thursday. It’s nothing major, but he’s been in enough discomfort to keep us on the sidelines this week. I’ve been packing his front feet with Magic Cushion and wrapping him overnight, which seems to be helping. He’s been steadily getting better and I have high hopes that everything will be back to normal by this weekend. In the meantime, I’ve been reunited with my favorite pony Vinnie! Trainer graciously allowed me to ride him in my lesson on Thursday and we played dress up. Because there’s nothing like fancy boots, a figure eight bridle and fancy Eskadron boots to turn your frown upside.

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vinnie's skull saddle pad

Gymnastics

Last night was my weekly lesson on Vinnie and I am so happy and relieved that it went really well. With all the craziness that went on before and during Trial Horse, I was glad to get back to basics and just have a plain old good ride.

Trainer split the normally very large Thursday night lesson up into two groups (huzzah!), so I just rode with J, which was really nice. I’ve been feeling like I need some more focused attention lately, and I was very grateful to get it last night. The entire lesson was all various gymnastics, focusing on position — exactly what I needed.

We started out with the longest line (two fences set at 5-6 strides), and my first few times through weren’t that great. Vinnie popped way up over the box the first time and, of course, I looked like a monkey going over and I’m pretty sure not a single inch of my body was touching my tack. Great. But as we got going, it got better. We did all of the gymnastics the rest of the time without issue (at least on Vinnie’s part), which included three jumps at two strides and three jumps at one stride.

Trainer explained two-point in a different way, which I think helped a little bit. She talked about how my joints need to move and I need to fold like an accordion. At no point during riding can my entire body be stiff — there always has to be a part that moves. I need to change thinking about two-point as a picture to thinking of it as a video.

As we went through the various gymnastics focusing on position, we also added some tighter turns each direction at the end. This was probably my shining moment. Most of our turns were great. I struggled all winter with turns and to have some really nice ones last night felt fabulous. Best of all? My pony without lead changes gave me TWO — one each direction!!

 

new vocations logo

New Vocations Charity Show

I was lucky enough to have a four-day weekend thanks to the holiday, so of course I spent my extra time off at a horse show! New Vocations is a well-recognized and nationally renowned Thoroughbred (and Standardbred!) adoption program located right in my backyard. Every year they host a horse show at the local county fairgrounds that we frequent for another show series. I’ve personally never attended this show, but this year, our barn took 12 horses — it was quite a party!

Friday

Overall, the show was an adventure. It poured rain all week, so schooling on Friday was exceptionally sloppy. Vinnie started off pretty full of himself on the flat, but I decided to ignore it and try to jump some jumps. And what do you know: Vinnie was a gentleman! This show used different jumps and standards than the other show series we normally attend and even on the flat, Vinnie wasn’t too keen on some of the fun wing standards. Over fences, he sucked back to a few, but I got him over every single one without a refusal. Go me!

Saturday

Saturday dawned dreary and muggy and the show ran very slowly. In my ring, the schedule had hunters/equitation in the morning with jumpers in the afternoon. Normally I only show hunters — I’ve never shown equitation over fences at a real hunter/jumper show — but this show split the divisions differently, so if I wanted to show at all on Saturday, Equitation was my only choice. So I put on my big girl pants, and signed up. I told myself it would just be for fun and experience, so no worries about placings or anything of the sort.

My warm-up was wasn’t great — I chipped in a lot, and went too slowly. But I was able to learn from that round and make changes for the first over fences trip and did great! Obviously its not perfect, but for me, it was pretty darn good. Here’s the video evidence:

We ended up placing 6th out of 16 for our effort! To say that I was over-the-moon excited would be an understatement. I am so proud of myself for going out and doing it and for doing it well. My riding is definitely improving at every show and I am thinking so much more while I’m on course.

I’m not going to talk much about my second trip. We had a refusal due to rider error, but it’s all things I know I need to work on — and I am making improvements in those areas. So even though I probably should be upset about it, I’m not. I’m going to make mistakes, but overall I am riding better than I did last year and even at the first show this year.

Here is where the show went all downhill. I showed in the 4th division of the day… and I showed at 4 pm. Jumpers (all of them) ended up getting rained out. They decided to run them Sunday morning, before the regular hunter schedule in my ring.

Sunday

Sunday I woke up and didn’t feel great. I meandered to the show, and Jumpers took forever. I got to watch my friends, which was a ton of fun, but I felt a migraine coming on. That, combined with the muddy ring, and I opted to scratch my hunter division. I was disappointed I didn’t show, but I wouldn’t have given Vinnie a good ride, and I really wanted to end on a good note.

Diamond and Tracy with ribbons

Rockin’ & Rollin’

This past weekend was another show at our barn. I really enjoyed the last one, but I’ve been showing so much I really needed a weekend to catch up on everything else… like having food in the fridge. So I came to the barn for my Thursday night lesson, turned out there were six of us in total, and we got to school the show course since it was already set up.

The lesson started out rocky. We warmed up outside and Vinnie was great — loped around without a care. Then we went to the indoor, which requires us to walk next to the bear-infested woods. Vinnie was tentative, but we made it to the door… where he promptly spooked and whirled away. Perfect start! I got off and just walked him into the area and around some of the jumps. He calmed down quickly and we were able to trot around and eventually pop over a warm-up jump.
Here, I am going to pause and detail our first jump, because I am so proud of myself. We did a diagonal going up (towards the mirrors) and I could feel Vinnie sucking back during our approach. So I closed my leg, clucked and he went over! Now, I know most riders do this all the time, but I do not. I usually have no idea that Vinnie is about to stop and thus am never prepared to prevent it from happening the first time. But this time I did! Huzzah! 
Anyways, on to the rest of the lesson. I was still a little bit nervous about the fences — we haven’t been jumping oxers lately and there was a scary dark brown natural with garland. Needless to say, I was worried Vinnie would really pop up over one of them and jump me out of the tack. But I put on my big girl panties and went around and jumped two courses. I had only one not-so-great following over the fence jump, but it wasn’t BAD, just not good. The rest went well — we were definitely in our groove, rockin’ and rollin’! I was so happy that I just called it quits after that. It was hot and muggy and I was tired.
After the lesson, my trainer asked if I would consider showing Diamond in some of the flat classes in the show on Saturday. Of course, I said yes! So Saturday I trekked out with boyfriend in tow and showed in Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation on the Flat. Diamond was a bit anxious… not really wanting to stand still, but she was great under saddle. We got 2nd out of three in the equitation (which, for me is pretty good!) and then 1st out of five or so in the under saddle. It was fun, and we were done and out of there in two hours — plenty of time for laundry and the grocery.

 

 

This week is a short work-week, with the holiday (yippee!) and I have a horse show this weekend. I hope everyone has a safe and fun Fourth of July!

Vinnie June Delaware Ribbons

The Calm Horse Returns!

Last week was pretty hectic, and by the time Friday arrived, I had adopted the following attitude: Just Fuck It. I had to work a full day on Friday (no half-day for me), so I didn’t arrive at the showgrounds to school until just after 6 pm.

I unloaded, set-up Vinnie’s fan and decided just to hop on and find out what I had to work with. Lo and behold, Vinnie was lazy. And the clouds parted and a chorus of angels sang hallelujah! Okay, maybe that part was just in my head, but I was so happy! We went into the ring, jumped every jump all in a row and were done. Schooling took all of 15 minutes from start to finish and I was beyond thrilled!

Saturday

Saturday morning dawned hot and humid, with highs in 90’s. Sam didn’t get home from his out-of-town work trip until 1 am, so he slept in since I wasn’t slated to show until around 11 am, and this show is notorious for running behind. Then at 9:30, we got the announcement: “six trips and flat before the start of Limit Rider,” at which point I panicked, just slightly. Our plan was to show in the first rotation of my division, do the warm-up trip and if Vinnie was too strong, we would drop down in the order, get off and lunge.

So I called Sam, who was luckily already on his way. I got dressed, tacked up (all by myself! look at me, being all adult-like!) and went out to the warm-up. I trotted and cantered, then went over a little vertical twice. Vinnie was his perfect, old self: a total push ride, without a care in the world. I got dropped in the order to the second rotation due to conflicts in other rings, which turned out fine because Sam made it to the ring just as I was going in for my warm-up trip.

I didn’t manage to get any photos/video from Saturday, but man, did we kill it. I mean, we just murdered those courses. I rode really well, flowed and stretched up. It was absolutely glorious and I came out of that ring beaming! We placed 8th in one of our over fences classes, which in a division of 13 with no lead changes is pretty darn impressive, if I do say so myself.

Vinnie June Delaware Sleeping in Stall
“I’m so tired I need the ground to hold my head up”

I was much more prepared to go early this time and everything was all good. I was more tired, so I felt like I didn’t ride quite as well as I did on Saturday, but still much improved from the last show. Here was our best course:Sunday

We ended up placing 6th and 7th in our over fences classes! I was thrilled — I think we were the best team out there without a lead change, and that is fucking fantastic. We opted out of the under saddle — I was hot and tired, plus in a division that large, we just weren’t going to be competitive. I don’t need to practice the flat; the last two shows trainer has said I showed to the best of Vinnie’s ability on the flat and we didn’t place (which is fine). But I wanted to end on a great note, so I was happy with that decision.

All in all, definitely the best show this season and I am really, really happy to finally see some progress in myself, and see that reflected in the placings from show to show. Plus, I’m definitely well on my way to accomplishing my goal of riding better at each event!

Vinnie June Delaware Ribbons